Are Fallacies Vices?
- 420 Downloads
Why are some arguments fallacious? Since argumentation is an intellectual activity that can be performed better or worse, do we evaluate arguments simply in terms of their content, or does it also make sense to evaluate the arguer in light of the content put forward? From a ‘virtue’ approach, I propose understanding fallacies as having some link with intellectual vice(s). Drawing from recent work by Paul Grice, Linda Zagzebski, Andrew Aberdein, and Douglas Walton, this essay argues that if there is some sense of argumentation where an argument is (1) truth-propagating and not (2) put forward in order to ‘win’, fallacies may be the vicious element in arguments that undermines (1), most often because the arguer’s goal is only (2). From this perspective, fallacies may not only be improper ‘moves’ in an argument, but may also reveal something lacking in the arguer’s intellectual character.
KeywordsArgumentation Informal logic Virtue Epistemology Fallacy
- Aristotle. On sophistical refutations (trans: Forster ES). William Heinemann Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Cohen DH (2005) Arguments that backfire. In: Hitchcock D, Farr D (eds) The uses of argument. Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation, Hamilton, pp 58–65Google Scholar
- Gigerenzer G (2005) I think, therefore I err. Soc Res 72(1) (Spring): 195–218Google Scholar
- Govier T (1983) Who says there are no fallacies? Informal Log 5:2–10Google Scholar
- Hamblin CL (1970) Fallacies. Vale Press, Newport NewsGoogle Scholar
- Walton D (2010) Why fallacies appear to be better arguments than they are. Informal Log 30(2):159–184Google Scholar
- Whately R (1834; reprint) Elements of logic. University of Michigan Library Reprints, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar